, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 475-521

Unifying the imperfective and the progressive: partitions as quantificational domains

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Abstract

This paper offers a new unified theory about the meaning of the imperfective and progressive aspects that builds on earlier of analyses in the literature that treat the imperfective as denoting a universal quantifier (e.g. Bonomi, Linguist Philos, 20(5):469–514, 1997; Cipria and Roberts, Nat Lang Semant 8(4):297–347, 2000). It is shown that the problems associated with such an analysis can be overcome if the domain of the universal quantifier is taken to be a partition of a future extending interval into equimeasured cells. Treating the partition-measure (the length of each partition-cell) as a contextually dependent variable allows for a unified treatment of the habitual and event-in-progress readings of the imperfective. It is argued that the contrast between the imperfective and the progressive has to do with whether the quantifier domain is a regular partition of the reference interval or a superinterval of the reference interval.